Letter Re: Some Advice on Tangibles Investing

After first picking up your book “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It” on a whim, SurvivalBlog.com has definitely changed a lot about how I live my life, particularly in how I choose to spend money.  As a prospective medical student, I can’t buy a retreat property and set it up the way I should (however much I want to).  However, there are many things I have found I can do.  After reading The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason years ago at the encouragement of my Dad, I started to set aside 10% of what I made for investment purposes.  I had a nice little amount saved when I came across SurvivalBlog.  A lot of the things said about the dollar’s decline made a lot of sense to me.  However, while I do believe a serious collapse is possible, and I want to be prepared for it, I have a limited amount of funds.  Therefore, I wanted to put the bulk of my funds into something that will help me prepare should something go wrong, be a good investment whether collapse happened or not, and be something I could enjoy no matter what.  That being the case, the two things I have spent most of my money on are guns and books.  While guns fit all the parameters of what I listed above, books are not really a great investment if you plan on getting your money back later on or plan on turning a profit.  

My library is now loaded with most of the survival fiction suggested on the SurvivalBlog bookshelf, a fair number of the other recommended books, and books I personally felt could be of some use (Falcon Guides, books on how native Americans lived, how Civil War soldiers lived, books that would just be an entertaining read, and so forth).  I frequently stop at a used bookstore on my way back from volunteering in the hospital Emergency Room.  Used bookstores are a great way to find books at low prices.  I am blessed to have a rather large used bookstore near my home.  Amazon is of course another great resource but they are usually (but not always) a little more expensive and you just don’t get to have the same browsing experience as you get at a brick and mortar store.  I must take this opportunity to thank Avalanche Lily for recommending The Sign of the Beaver  and The Crispin trilogy.  In elementary school, my school sponsored an event we were allowed to pick out a free book once a year.  Because The Sign of the Beaver had an Indian boy on the cover, and I was interested in Native American life as well as being part Native American myself, I chose it.  I remember I thought it was too long and difficult to read, so I put it on my shelf and mostly put it out of my mind until I saw Lily’s recommendation.  Needless to say I changed my view on the length and difficulty of the book and even though it is a “children’s book,” I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The first Crispin book has proved to be entertaining and informative as well.  I find books written for children can be great resources especially in the realm of survival.  These books tend to cut survival skills down to their basics and are written…get this…so even a child can understand it.  While knowing the exact angles at which to place your sticks to start a fire may be useful, knowing that you should make a stick tepee will probably work just as well.  I am not saying you should do away with the “real” manuals (I have many), but children’s books would make a great addition.

I mentioned volunteering in the ER earlier.  I mainly started volunteering to get experience for medical school, but I have since come to enjoy my time spent up there.  You get to help people and gain valuable experience, if not in the way you think you would.  While I am allowed to observe the treatment of trauma patients, I really don’t get a good idea of how I would be able to treat them.  Give them a shot of this, run this kind of iv, order this test, and usually they are sent off pretty quickly for an xray or CT scan and I don’t get to see much after that.  However, the real experience comes in watching how the staff interacts with the patients and their families.  We have a large variety of people come to be treated.  We have truly crazy people, people who are just a little crazy, people who can’t speak English, people are in serious pain, people who are homeless, criminals, violent people, hypochondriacs, etc., etc., who are seeking treatment.  It is interesting to see how each situation is dealt with.  The hospital staff has done a great job of adapting to each situation.  From a survival standpoint, while I may not be too much closer in being able to take care of your gun shot wound, I feel I am much better prepared to deal with people in crisis situations and I would recommend a stint as a volunteer in the ER to anyone (if you can handle it).

Now on to the stuff everyone likes to talk about: guns.  Before I started reading Survivalblog, I had a Springfield Armory XD-M .40 and a Ruger 10/22.  Now, I have in addition to these: a Taurus TCP .380, a Walther P22, a Remington 700 VTR in .308, Remington 870 Marine Magnum, an AR-15 with a great set up, a Saiga 12, an Arsenal SGL21 AKM, and a DPMS LR308AP4 (also with a great set up).  I have also purchased a Gamo Whisper pellet rifle, a Crosman 760 Pumpmaster that shoots both BBs and pellets (definitely worth the $30 at Wal-Mart), and a Bear Super Kodiak recurve bow.  I figured that with the exception of the air rifles and maybe the bow, these weapons would at least hold near their value regardless of the value of the dollar.  Plus, I now have a nice battery for defense, a great hobby, and a lot better chance of getting some meat for the table whether it is with a bullet, a shotgun shell, a BB, or an arrow.  

The main reason I started to write this was about turning tangibles into tangibles.  Some of you may be thinking, man, he has to save up for medical school, how did he get all those guns?  Like I said, I had been saving up on the side for years and taking a small percentage for investment (which I have now decided is guns) each week.  Also, I am a deal hunter.  Almost all of the above weapons were purchased at gun shows or off of Armslist.com.  If your state has one, another great place to look is a state gun forum (not run by the state…just in your state).  However, with my gun fund now depleted, I have to get creative.  So, I turned to Craigslist.  What do I possibly have that I don’t need/want anymore that is worth anything and/or may not be worth anything soon?  As a 20-something, I have acquired a rather large assortment of video game systems over the years. While I may keep my xbox 360 as a luxury in a post collapse situation (as one survivor of the Argentina collapse wrote about), I feel fine about getting rid of my old and/or seldom played systems that are just taking up space.  I also have DVDs.  

While I plan on keeping a few around for my personal collection and as possible luxury items, I have many that I am sure I will never watch again.  With the advent of Blu-ray, Netflix, Comcast on demand, etc., the time to get out of DVDs seems to be yesterday.  The good news is they haven’t yet become worthless.  While a used VHS sells for around 20 cents now, a used DVD can still get you $2 to $10, depending on the title).  This may not sound like much but if you have a large collection, this may be the way to get that new concealable .38 Special revolver you’ve had your eye on.  And if you have a complete boxed set of a popular show, even used you could be looking at the $100-$150 range.  
is the time to trade in some items that will wind up in the free box at a garage sale for something you can actually use.  Of course, video games and DVDs are not the only tangibles you can convert.  Look for opportunities to take items that you don’t use or don’t want anymore and turn them into something you really want.  It is easy to just let your junk sit where it is, take up space in your house, and lose value.  You might be surprised how much you can get for your junk and how good you will feel to be rid of it.  On a side note, you can also re-purpose your junk.  My mom wanted to get rid of some inexpensive porcelain figures and decorations.  After an attempt to sell them in a garage sale, these became my new bb targets.  I am looking forward to seeing what other suggestions are out there for tangible conversion. Turn your soon to be worthless tangibles into tangibles that have value now and could become invaluable in the future.

One final thought:  We have all heard of your three Bs: “Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids”.  This is a great way to summarize necessities of survival and for the fear of becoming the 20 “Bs” of survival or the 30 “Bs” of survival, it should probably remain the three Bs.  However, I find the six Bs of survival being closer to my mentality:  Bible, Books, Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Bullion. – T.N.